Wednesday, December 4, 2013

AmLaw 200 Law Firm Leaders Survey: What's Hot and What's Not

Update Dec. 11, 2013: This post was awarded the Technolawyer BIg Law Pick of the week:


Yesterday I reported on the ALM  General Counsel Survey. Today I looked at the data from the Amlaw 200 Law Firm Leadership Survey.  There is only a partial correlation  between two surveys. Like corporate GCs, law firm leaders are overwhelmingly optimistic about their firms prospects for 2014 while being fairly pessimistic about the pace of economic  recovery in the US. Law firm leaders are deeply pessimistic about prospects for a near term European economic recovery. Instead of writing a summary of the reports,  I reviewed the ALM charts and culled a  list of “what’s hot”  and “what’s not.”

  • New office locations:   Hot (DC) Not (Silicon Valley)
  • Practice areas:  Hot (Litigation) Not ( Bankruptcy)
  • Revenue drivers:   Hot (government regulations) Not ( Dealflow)
  • Staffing trends:    Hot (small incoming associate classes)      Not (associate layoffs)
  • Partner trends:    Hot ( de-equitizing partners) Not ( mandatory retirements)
  • Law Firm Finance:   Hot (Capital calls) Not (3rd party debt)
  • Growth strategies:   Hot ( US mergers) Not ( European expansion)
  • Lateral partner hires:   Hot (Litigation) Not ( Energy)
  • Client feedback:   Hot (establishing a feedback program) Not (actually getting client feedback)
  • Fee Arrangements:   Hot ( discounting hourly rates) Not (alternative fees)
  • Alternative staffing:   Hot ( secondments) Not (shared staffing)
  • Succession planning:  Hot (making a succession plan) Not ( executing a succession plan)
Some of the items on this list highlight a disconnect between planning and execution (client feedback programs). Although the majority of firms have a succession plan - 90% of firm leaders have been in place for more than 10 years, so succession is not happening. Failing to establish policies (mandatory retirement)  may have negative repercussions. Would establishing a mandatory  retirement age, diminish the need for undertaking the humiliating process of de-equitizing partners?
 

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